Thanksgiving is just two days away and like a lot of people in the US, I have been thinking about all the classic food items that will adorn my holiday table.
This is a first on Life of an Architect – I had never really spoken about food here on my architectural site, that is until I let everyone know just a few weeks ago that my backup plan if I didn’t make it as an architect was to be a chef. I do like to cook but I don’t honestly take the time for it like I should … except at Thanksgiving. There is one dish in particular that I look forward to – lemon chess pie, just like the one my mom used to make. My wife and I have been hosting Thanksgiving and cooking all the food at our house for years but I would always ask my mom to bring her lemon chess pie. I am sad to say that she passed away several years ago but I’d like to think she would be proud of how I have continued the tradition of making the annual lemon chess pie.
This is a picture of my mom – the lemon chess pie master*
Several weeks ago I was interviewed “internet style” (they send you a list of questions, you write the answers) and one of the questions was
“What is your favourite recipe?” My response was:
‘Lemon Chess Pie from my mother’s recipe. I’m a little surprised that this was the first thing that popped into my head because I don’t eat many sweets, but some things are more precious because of the memories associated with them. If I eat four pieces of pie a year, three and a half of them will be lemon chess.’
If you are interested in the other list of things that are my “favourite”, here is the entire interview.
One thing that struck me as I laid in bed last night blocking this post out mentally was the similarity between my favorite dessert and my favorite style of architecture – modernism. Both are very simple to understand, contain few components (or ingredients), lack unnecessary ornamentation, and the execution is important. OMG!! Modernism IS Lemon Chess Pie!!** My world is complete now…
Here is the recipe for my Mom’s Architectural Lemon Chess Pie1 prepackaged graham cracker pie crust 4 eggs, lightly beaten 1/4 cup milk 1/3 cup lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/4 lb butter 1/4 tsp salt 1 Tbs flour 1.5 cups sugar 2 Tbs cornmeal Grated rind of 2 large lemons
Beat eggs slightly, add sugar and continue to beat until well mixed and the sugar is incorporated into the eggs. Add remaining ingredients, mix until distributed evenly. Pour into graham cracker pie crust and bake for 1 hour at 325 degrees. Line the exposed edges of the pie crust with aluminum foil so that they don’t burn.
*I wouldn’t be honoring my mother’s memory if I didn’t confess that what she was really known for her pecan pie. She grew up in Abilene, Texas, in Callahan County, where one of the first paper shell pecan trees was grafted by J. H. Burket in 1903. Seriously people, you can’t make this stuff up.
** technically the lemon in the chess pie is embellishment but just don’t worry about that – I’m talking about whipped cream and cool whip type embellishment
Happy Pie-ing, (pie baking, pie eating, etc.)